Tuesday, September 17, 2019

From Ian:

Area C: ‘Occupation’ or annexation
Ironically, withdrawal of Israeli control would condemn Arab Palestinians to Hamas control and promote violent power struggles between warring Muslim factions. This chaotic situation would enable other countries and Islamic militants in the region to join the conflict and would likely destabilize the entire region. In addition, it would further Syrian aspirations to recover the Golan Heights, and encourage Islamic militants – such as ISIS, al-Qaeda and Hezbollah – to continue attacking Israel.

This scenario is the danger of the “two-state-solution” (TSS). The TSS would not resolve any Arab and Palestinian objections to Israel’s existence as declared in the PLO Covenant and Hamas Charter; it would neither change their fundamental narrative of the Nakba, and the “Right-of-Return” for Arab “refugees,” nor their demand that Israel return to the UN-proposed plan of 1947. The TSS means, therefore, ending Israel’s existence.

On the other hand, declaring Israeli sovereignty over Area C – annexation – would confirm and protect the right of Jews to live in their homeland and it would promote a constructive, productive future for all residents of the area. It would eliminate the “military occupation” by the IDF/COGAT. It would allow Israel’s security forces to apprehend terrorists in PA towns and cities. It would strengthen Israel’s security and would enable Arabs in the area to live in peace and enjoy economic and social benefits.

Opposing annexation, however, does not and will not prevent Israel’s enemies from denouncing “the occupation” and engaging in anti-Israel activities. And, the issue of “settlements” continues to fracture Israeli society and diminish our national cohesion. It’s a “lose-lose” strategy.

Although Israeli leftists oppose annexation, they offer no reasonable or practical alternative. Moreover, they are oblivious to the consequences of not annexing Area C. Opposing the implementation of civilian Israeli authority (annexation) and continuing the “military occupation” of Area C, therefore, serves no one; it makes no sense.

Israeli leftists have a responsibility and obligation to explain how their plan would work. Refusing to do so means that they are not serious and don’t care about the damage they cause. Do they stand with Israel and Zionism, or not? Are they with us, or against us (meaning the vast majority of Jews in Israel)? Jewish communities in Area C are facts of life. Abandoning them is not an option. The choice, therefore, is simple: Annexation or “Occupation” – sovereignty or self-defeat.
Noah Rothman: What It Will Take to Prevent Iran from Starting a War
So, if the response to Iranian aggression is not unconditional diplomatic re-engagement, what should it be? The Trump administration remains committed to an admirable and arguably successful effort to use financial and diplomatic tools to destabilize the Iranian regime from within. But that commitment forecloses on retaliatory strikes on Iranian targets. Such a course would provide the regime with the opportunity to rally the public against the United States, shifting the nation’s focus away from the regime’s failures and toward an exogenous threat.

The White House’s reluctance to undermine that strategy and the president’s desire to avoid “disproportionate” loss of life or collateral destruction is commendable but flawed. The Iranian regime is not interested in proportionality. Its interests lie in fomenting conflict in the region, breaking the resolve of America’s European allies to maintain a united front, and ultimately relieving the economic pressure on the regime.

The timing of this latest attack affords the Trump administration an opportunity to turn the tables against the Iranian regime. As the world’s leaders gather in New York City ahead of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, the Trump administration should use that platform to make the case against the Iranian regime. It should reveal the intelligence its officials claim to have proving why Iran was behind this act of war. It should expand upon its theory of the case: That Iran’s provocations are part of a deliberate effort to destabilize the region, sow tension within the Western alliance, and divide and conquer. It should compel the civilized nations of the world to deploy naval assets to the region to deter further acts of Iranian piracy, which have not abated even in the wake of the strikes in Abqaiq. And finally, the Trump administration should reserve the right to use incommensurate retaliatory force against Iranian regime targets with or without the support of its allies.

The Trump administration should do all these things, but it won’t. Iran will continue to test its freedom of action until it miscalculates and ignites an international incident that necessitates an immediate military response to reestablish what the Trump administration confessed broke down long ago: deterrence. We can only hope that the damage that will be done and the lives that will be lost in that event will be minimal. But there can be no question that, on the present course, it is coming. (h/t IsaacStorm)

US to Attempt ‘George Costanza Doctrine’ in the Middle East (satire)
Noting that every action the US has taken in the Middle East for roughly seven decades has been wrong, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has adopted the ‘George Costanza Doctrine’ of doing the opposite of policymakers’ instincts.

“Every decision we have made – who to bomb, where to invade, who to ally with – has gone disastrously wrong,” Pompeo explained. “We counted on the Shah of Iran to stay in power, we threw our weight behind the Oslo Peace Process, we invaded Iraq, we bombed Libya, we stayed out of Syria – and nothing has worked out since oil was discovered in the Arabian Peninsula.”

Pompeo continued, “If our instincts are always wrong, then the best way to achieve our desired outcomes may be to do the opposite of what we think is correct.”

So far, the new approach has led to some policy successes. When Israel revealed plans for a new round of settlement construction, the US announced its support and added that it would soon be building settlements for American Zionist Christians in the Jerusalem suburbs. President Trump then announced that he would respond to the humanitarian crisis in Syria by opening the door for an influx of Syrian refugees and by banning non-Muslims from immigrating into the US.

And when a caravan of Middle Eastern men in Humvees were spotted near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, the military decided against taking them out with a Predator drone. This move also paid off – though the men turned out to be terrorists, they soon blew themselves up when an explosive device planned to be used in a suicide bombing exploded prematurely.

“Crooked Hillary and Obama the Communist Kenyan never thought of this opposite stuff!” Trump considered tweeting, before thinking better of it and logging off Twitter.

Dutch court hears preliminary arguments against Benny Gantz for 2014 Gaza strike
A Dutch court heard preliminary arguments Tuesday in a case about a deadly 2014 Israeli airstrike, in which Israeli prime ministerial candidate Benny Gantz is one of two named defendants.

Dutch-Palestinian Ismail Ziada is seeking 600,000 euros ($660,000) in damages over the airstrike deaths, Reuters reported.

This preliminary hearing, to determine whether or not it should try the case, started as Israelis went to the polls to elect a new government — with Gantz a leading candidate for the prime minister’s post.

Gantz, 60, was the chief of general staff of the Israel Defense Force at the time of the Gaza bombing as part of Operation Protective Edge, in which Ismail Ziada said six of his relatives were killed.

The second defendant is former Israeli air force chief Amir Eshel, 60.

At the hearing Ziada urged the court to go ahead with a trial for war crimes.

“I am seeking justice,” Ziada told judges at The Hague’s District Court. He would not get a fair hearing before an Israeli court, he argued, because it “discriminated against Palestinians seeking accountability for war crimes.”

Ziada’s mother, three brothers, a sister-in-law, a young nephew and a friend were killed in the strike on Bureij refugee camp in Gaza on July 20, 2014.
Israeli official: Dutch courts should reject war crimes case against Gantz
Israel strongly believes that a Dutch court, which is hearing a case against Benny Gantz for alleged war crimes during the 2014 Gaza War, should dismiss the charges, Deputy Attorney-General (International Law) Roy Schondorf told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday morning as the hearing was in session.

The hearing is not at the trial stage, but rather is about whether Dutch courts have the jurisdiction to hear the allegations against Israeli officials, including Gantz and former IDF Air Force Chief Maj. Gen. (res.) Amir Eshel.

Israeli soldiers and commanders may also be on the hot seat at The Hague before the International Criminal Court, but Tuesday’s hearing, which also happens to be Election Day, is a local Dutch court proceeding that is unrelated to that.

In fact, the ICC preliminary probe of Israel’s conduct of the 2014 war is moving slowly and is not expected to come to any conclusion earlier than December, with real progress possibly even farther off.

Schondorf told the Post that, “The event that is the subject of this lawsuit was part of a large-scale military operation that came in response to a barrage of rocket attacks fired by Hamas at Israeli civilians.”

“The air strike referred to in the lawsuit was directed against a structure that was being used as a military command and control center and against the military operatives who were manning it,” he said.

Defense chiefs stymied Netanyahu plan to hit Gaza before elections – report
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s push last week for significant military action in the Gaza Strip after a rocket fired from the territory forced him to take cover was reportedly forcefully opposed by top defense officials.

Netanyahu — who is also defense minister — was escorted off stage during a campaign event in Ashdod last Tuesday, after a rocket fired from the enclave triggered sirens over the southern city. Another projectile was aimed at nearby Ashkelon, and both were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system.

Footage of Israel’s leader being ushered from the stage to take cover was seen as denting his security credentials, a week before the national election in which he faces a tough challenge.

After the rocket fire, Netanyahu huddled with senior figures in the defense establishment, among them the Israel Defense Forces’ chief of staff and the head of the Shin Bet security service. It was during that meeting that the prime minister suggested launching an “extraordinary” and “far-reaching” military response against Palestinian terrorist groups in the enclave, according to the Haaretz newspaper.

But the defense officials objected to such a move and warned it could spiral into war, Channel 13 news reported on Monday night.

The network quoted a security source involved in the deliberations, who said it seemed Netanyahu was guided by political considerations.
Rivlin: I will do everything I can to avoid another election
President Reuven Rivlin called on the public to go out and vote on Tuesday.

In a video message to social media, the president said, "These elections, which abruptly fell upon us, have led to a sense of frustration among many of us. But despite that, we must remember that in the democratic game, influence only passes through the ballot box."

Relating to the possibility that the lawmaker charged with forming the next government would not succeed in doing so, Rivlin said, "In this case, I will have two options, one of which I will have to make, and within three days: The first option is to task the work of forming the government on any other lawmaker that agrees to do so, [besides for] that same lawmaker who was already given the opportunity and did not succeed."

According to the president, "The second option is to inform the Knesset speaker that there is no possibility of forming a government, and there is no other option but to embark on a third election." He said that in this case, he would inform the Knesset speaker "that I cannot find a lawmaker who I believe is able to establish a government."

He said, "61 Knesset members can ask me to grant a lawmaker they support, including those who have already been afforded an opportunity, the mandate to form the government."
Police temporarily close several polling stations over suspected voter fraud
Police temporarily shut down several polling stations on Tuesday over suspected voter fraud.

In the morning, a station in the northern Arab city of Umm al-Fahm was briefly shuttered after an observer began filming voters in an apparent violation of the law.

“He was escorted out of the polling place by police officers, and afterward there was a larger gathering of citizens,” police said in a statement. “Out of concerns that there would be violence in the area, it was decided to close the polls until police finished dealing with the event.”

The polling station was later reopened.

In the afternoon, police shut down three polling places in the Druze village of Yarka in northern Israel out of concern for election fraud.

“A report was received of suspicion of counterfeiting at three polling places in the village of Yarka. There is suspicion of an attempt to bring voting envelopes into the polling areas,” police said.

“In accordance with an instruction from the regional election committee, the three polling places have been closed until the investigation is completed.”
Netanyahu slams Facebook for blocking chat bot on Likud's page
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed social media giant Facebook for closing his chat bot on Tuesday, as he was using it to ask users whom are they voting for.

Netanyahu repeated his previous statements that the media is falsely reporting that large numbers of Right-wing voters are casting their votes.

"This is a spin of a spin," he shouted on social media, "they are trying to put you to sleep! Tomorrow you could wake up to [Blue and White leader Benny] Gantz sitting here!"

"The chat bot is our way to talk to our supporters," he lamented, "they took a five kilo hammer and used it to crush us in the Likud; we are in a difficult struggle." He expressed hope that a judge will reverse the decision upon further examination.

The only way to solve these problems is to go out and vote, the prime minister said. "I stand to so many pressures; Facebook doesn't stand up to the pressure of the Left."

Facebook responded that they are working with election committees across the world to assure elections are kept pure.
Residents of Gaza border community boycott voting in protest
Moran-Hila Madmoni, a resident of Sderot - one of the towns most heavily bombarded with Gaza rocket fire - decided to gather other area residents to go to the ballots: not to vote, but to protest.

Instead of putting a white note with a party name on it, protesters will be slipping a "red note" into their voting envelopes. This being a reference to the 'red alert' alarm that warns of incoming rockets, an alarm too familiar for their ears.

In an interview with Sderotnet, she said "I choose a red note. I don't choose to give my voice to any candidate because I didn't find one. This is the protest that should be going on in the Gaza border communities."

"I don't believe in any candidate; none of them give me a feeling of security."

In a post she published before ballots were opened Tuesday morning, she explained her decision. "A lot of people are saying that by doing this I'm strengthening the other side. Right wingers claim I'm from the Left, or sponsored by the New Israel Fund; left-wingers say I'm weakening them and strengthening the Right. I just think it's sad that the whole discussion now is all about Left vs. Right. It's all one big dichotomy, and in the space between there's a large public that seems to go overlooked."

"I know and understand that 'every vote counts,' but a protest can influence differently. I'm not trying to change the Knesset's lineup, I'm trying to change their decision-making process."
The PA’s latest educational curriculum is a strategic move toward hate
Quite literally thousands of violent references plague textbooks teaching Arabic, Islamic Education, Social Studies and National Education. Of 50 textbooks analyzed across these subjects, just two do not include problematic material, as defined by UNESCO standards.

Some of the examples are breathtaking. A poem for nine-year-olds calls for “sacrificing blood” to liberate all of Palestine. Meanwhile, Newton’s Second Law is explained with the use of a slingshot targeting soldiers, to explain mass and tensile strength. While children worldwide are taught basic arithmetic by adding apples or other innocent objects, the PA’s textbooks ask pupils to add the number of ‘martyrs’ killed in the First and Second Intifadas.

Peacemaking has been intentionally removed. Unlike versions before 2016, this year’s PA curriculum sees an almost total absence of any Jewish connection to the Land of Israel. Similarly, where PA peace agreements with Israel once featured in the curriculum, they are now nowhere to be found, as if they simply did not exist. The Israeli Other is mentioned only to dehumanize. Ninth-grade Arabic students learn that a firebomb attack on Israeli bus passengers was a “barbeque party,” rendering Israeli life worthless. The logical conclusion isn’t hard to predict. Martyrdom and jihad is a recurring theme in the curriculum. Fifth graders are taught as part of their Arabic class, that “Giving one’s life, sacrifice, fight, jihad and struggle are the most important meanings of life.”

But, as Gershon Baskin says, things can change. Jordan is a useful case in point. The curriculum has undergone sweeping reform, to counter youth radicalization. Although the attitude towards Israel remains problematic, the Jordanian curriculum has made great strides, increasingly celebrating diversity. It now embraces the country’s Christian population and recognizes Jews as a distinct ethnic group with Middle Eastern roots. Clearly a strategic decision was made towards real change.

The PA has chosen to increase encouragement of hatred and violence, despite the strong, clear and vocal opposition of the international community. Sadly, there is no reason to think that it will accept Gershon’s recommendations. He speculates that if peace one day returns to the political agenda, the Palestinian education system will require reform. He has confused the cause and effect. Palestinians will continue to reject peace precisely because today, they are systematically educated to violence and conflict.
What to do about Palestinian textbook incitement: Israel's parties respond
Over the past three years, the Center for Near East Policy Research headed by journalist David Bedein conducted three comprehensive studies of all Palestinian Authority school textbooks used by the UN Relief and Works Agency, the PA and Hamas schools.

These studies, delivered to the Office of the UN Secretary General, were carried out by Dr. Arnon Groiss, published by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, and funded in part by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

The studies documented that the Palestinian educational system systematically “delegitimizes Israel’s right to exist, demonizes Jews and indoctrinates for war” rather than engaging in meaningful peace education.

This remains the case even though Israeli legislation that has governed the Civil Administration since the 1967 Six-Day War requires that Israel check every schoolbook used in territories under its control. Despite the law, since the Palestinian Authority inaugurated its own curriculum in August 2000, no Israeli government has enforced this oversight clause of the Israel Civil Administration Law.

Do any of the political parties running for Knesset plan on changing this? I contacted most of the parties running in the election. Their responses follow:

Jordan and Israel ties: a need for common understanding among peoples
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent pledge to annex parts of the Jordan Valley saw the speaker of Jordan’s House of Representatives declare that this “would place the [25-year-old] peace treaty at stake.” While Amman and Jerusalem still have unprecedented stable military and intelligence ties at the highest levels, these comments highlight the treaty’s lack of popular support among everyday Jordanians as well as in parliament, which regularly casts symbolic votes calling for a review of the accords. Understanding how the deal lost Jordanian public support shortly after its signing can help chart a path for strengthening bilateral economic, cultural and political ties.

In 1994, Jordan’s King Hussein saw an opportunity to repair ties with Washington, following his misguided refusal to join the American-led coalition against Saddam Hussein in Iraq. In pushing for a peace treaty with Israel, Jordan’s monarch used his personal involvement to achieve ratification and secured a treaty that promoted trade and scientific cooperation with Israel.

Unfortunately, as the 2000s approached, Israel-Jordan ties suffered three major blows. First, the king tried to stave off growing opposition to the treaty by cancelling planned political reforms. Second, by the late 1990s, Amman’s promise that American debt relief and aid would boost the local economy and create new jobs failed to come through, which undermined one of the major selling points for negotiating the treaty in the first place. Finally, high-profile Israeli counterterrorism operations against Hezbollah and Palestinian terrorists played poorly on the Jordanian street, which had considered Israel as an enemy for decades.
Jordan's Supreme Court Okays Israel Gas Deal
Jordan's Supreme Court approves an agreement with Israel, ruling that additional approval from the Jordanian parliamentary is not necessary.

The decision handed down by the court states that, "this is an agreement between two companies, whose contracts do not touch on aspects of the law that would require parliamentary approval."

The agreement was reviewed by the court after widespread protests in Jordan.
More Palestinians Find Work in Israel Despite Conflict
The number of West Bank Palestinians working in Israel has almost doubled in the past five years, according to official Palestinian figures.

Israel said the number of permits for employment in Israel had risen 160% since 2012.

Palestinian workers typically earn between $70 and $100 per day working in Israel or in Jewish communities in the West Bank, compared to just $20-$30 with Palestinian companies, workers said.

With unemployment rates in the West Bank at 18%, according to the World Bank, the revenue is vital for many families.

"Palestinian labor is a win-win for both sides," an Israeli defense official said.

The employees' salaries helped the Palestinian economy and contributed to calm in the West Bank.

Waiting times at the checkpoints between the West Bank and Israel had been cut from 30 minutes to only a few.
Turkey: Alarming Crackdown on Journalists, Desperate Appeal to UN
The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention was held on September 13. Sadly, no one at the meeting addressed the persecution of journalists in Turkey -- not José Guevara Bermúdez, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group, nor Béla Szombati, who represented the European Union, nor any other participant.

Amnesty International recently tagged Turkey the "world's largest prison for journalists."

The United Nations Human Rights Council, if it wishes to change its image from that of a laughing stock, should put at the top of its agenda calling Ankara to task. Meanwhile, however, Erdogan's violations of freedom of speech need to be exposed daily and loudly condemned -- not only by members of the UN and the media, but by any and all allies of Turkey -- and freedom of expression -- in the West.
A Credibility Test for U.S.-Saudi Defense Relations and Iran Deterrence
The Sep. 14 attack on Saudi targets in Abqaiq and Khurais could take up to 5.7 million barrels per day off the global market for the next several months. This makes it the most comprehensive blow against the global energy sector since Iraq's seizure of Kuwait in 1990.
The lack of attempted air defense interception by numerous overlapping Hawk and Patriot missile batteries suggests a low-level cruise missile attack that hugged the ground at altitudes of under 300 feet.

Seventeen individual impact points were struck at the Abqaiq facility. The weapons were highly accurate. All 12 of the 30-meter-wide spheroid gas-oil separation tanks at Abqaiq were hit almost dead center. Much thinner stabilization towers were also accurately struck. The tanks appear to have been struck with high-velocity kinetic force sans explosions, perhaps signaling an effort to damage but not permanently destroy them.

Assuming that indications of a major cruise missile attack launched from Iranian territory prove correct, the strike is a very bold gamble by the country's leadership. Iran can count on public skepticism to afford it some deniability, but an attack of this magnitude stands a much greater chance of provoking very severe diplomatic and military consequences.

If significant portions of the intelligence community conclude that the world's most important energy site has been hit by unprecedentedly advanced weapons launched directly from Iran or by the regime's proxies, the finding would challenge not only Riyadh and Washington, but the entire global energy community, including China.

Iran has deliberately gone much further than its previous provocations, and if it avoids consequences once again, it may decide it has a free pass to go even further, whether against Saudi Arabia, Israel, or other U.S. partners. And other known global provocateurs will be watching how Washington responds, including Russia, China, and North Korea. For the sake of reestablishing deterrence, the attack must not go unanswered.
Washinton Times Editorial: Iran Resumes Its Nuclear Menace
The Islamic republic remains affixed upon a singular goal: acquiring nuclear weapons. Now that the regime is hastening its deadly day of triumph, there is only one rational response: Resist until the moment when that terror-wielding nation desists.

The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran proudly exhibited a set of advanced uranium centrifuges. Half are capable of enriching uranium five times faster than earlier models, the rest able to enrich at 10 times the rate.
Tehran is confronting European nations with an ultimatum: Begin purchasing Iranian oil in violation of economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. or face the peril of a nuclear Iran. The implied threat is thinly disguised nuclear blackmail. Forcing the regime to choose between its nuclear program and economic collapse is the only rational course.
Iran saw Bolton's firing as a fatal Trump weakness
President Trump famously brags that he doesn’t read very much. Well, before President Trump recently fired National Security Advisor John Bolton, he should have at least watched the recently released “John Wick, Parabellum” aka John Wick 3.0. The reason is that he would have learned what “Parabellum” means.

“Parabellum” isn’t the name of 9mm semi-automatic ammunition. “Parabellum” is the second part of one of the most famous Latin axioms(truisms) regarding war and peace: "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum,” or loosely translated, "If you want peace, prepare for war." The paradoxical reason Trump should have watched “John Wick Parabellum” is that without “Bad Cop/Prep for War” Bolton, Iran has become irremediably convinced that Trump is actually fatally weak and paralyzed.

Therefore, Iran, sensing Trump’s real or apparent weakness, has boldly attacked Saudi Arabia’s Eastern provinces over 500 miles away from Yemen’s Houthis. In short, Bolton’s firing sparked a spiraling escalation of Iranian warfare that President Trump can not “talk” himself out of. In fact, with the November 2020 US Election bearing down on him, Iran is well-positioned to exploit the perceived Trump weakness to catastrophic effect against the United States.

Put another way, without Bolton’s “preparing for war,” President Trump will have war, not peace, up to November 2020.
MEMRI: The Attack On Saudi Oil Facilities: An Implementation Of Iran's Explicit Threats In Recent Months To Target Saudi Arabia, U.S., Global Economy
On September 14, 2019, two major oil facilities in Saudi Arabia – Khurais, the second-largest oil field in the country, and Abqaiq, the world's largest crude oil stabilization plant – were attacked using 10 drones armed with special munitions. The attack, for which the Houthi militia claimed responsibility (although the U.S. Foreign Secretary stated that there is no proof that the drones originated in Yemen), did severe damage to the facilities, thereby disrupting about half of the kingdom's daily oil production capacity, or 5% of the daily global oil supply.[1] This will clearly affect oil prices across the world and have an impact on the global economy.

The Saudi and U.S. aerial defense systems, deployed in several bases in Saudi Arabia explicitly for this purpose, failed to intercept the drones or foil the attack. Speaking today (September 14, 2019) on Al-Jazeera, General (ret.) Ma'moun Abu Nowar, a Jordanian commentator and a former air force commander, and Ahmad Al-Mo'aiad, a Houthi supporter in London, stressed that this was a complete failure of the U.S. and Saudi air defense systems. Al-Mo'aiad added that the UAE is also a potential target for attacks.

Iran Realizes Its Threat To Target Regional Oil Industry, Global Economy
Previous MEMRI reports have presented Iran's plan of action, which was openly articulated by the regime's political and military leadership. In response to a April 22, 2019 U.S. announcement on tightening the restrictions on Iranian oil exports,[2] top leaders of Iran's political system, armed forces and Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) announced that they would not allow a situation whereby Iran's neighbors can export their oil to the world whereas Iran cannot do so. The Iranian plan was to prevent the Saudi oil export by force, thereby also harming U.S. interests and the global economy.

In a December 4, 2018 speech on Iranian state TV, President Rohani said: "America should know that we will sell our oil and that they cannot prevent Iran from selling its oil. If America will ever want to prevent Iran from selling oil, no oil will be exported from the Persian Gulf."[3] On August 21, 2019 Rohani stated that "the world powers know that if sanctions [are imposed on Iran's] entire oil industry, causing Iran's oil export to drop to zero, the international shipping lanes will no longer be safe, as they were in the past. Therefore, the unilateral pressure on Iran cannot benefit [the U.S.] and cannot guarantee its security in the region and the world."[4]
MEMRI: Following Iranian Attack On Saudi Oil Facilities, Houthis Threaten Further Attacks, Warn Foreigners And Companies To Leave; Hizbullah Supporter Tweets Photo Of Anti-Ship Missile
Following the September 14, 2019 Iranian attack on the Saudi oil facilities, which was carried out by the Houthi militia and shut down half the kingdom's daily oil production,[1] the Houthis threatened further attacks on the same facilities, and warned “foreigners and companies” to leave the area. The Houthi threats were published September 16, 2019 on the Twitter account of Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree, who two days earlier had published the Houthi claim of responsibility for the attack. It should be noted that, according to a senior source in the U.S. Administration, the attack was carried out using more than 20 drones and 12 guided missiles launched from Iranian territory.[2] In another threat, a Hizbullah supporter tweeted what he claimed was a photograph of an anti-ship missile in Hizbullah’s possession.

Houthis Warn: “Foreigners And Companies” Should Stay Away From The Refineries We Attacked; Our Long Arm Can Reach Any Target
On September 16, 2019, Saree tweeted that the attack "which targeted the oil refineries in Abqaiq and Khurais was carried out by several types of [remotely piloted] aircraft operating with various new motors, some ordinary and some jet-powered. We warn the companies and the foreigners to stay away from the plants which were attacked, since they are still in our line of fire and may be attacked [again] at any moment."[3]

In another tweet Saree wrote: "We emphasize to the Saudi regime that our long arm can reach any place we want at the time of our choosing. [The Saudi regime must] reconsider its steps and cease its aggression toward Yemen and its siege on it."[4]

Hizbullah Supporter: Hizbullah Has A Missile Which Can Destroy Battleships
In the context of the current tensions, a Hizbullah supporter tweeted a photograph of a missile bearing the Hizbullah symbol which he claimed "can destroy every kind of battleship and wipe out anyone on board."[5]
Macron worried Saudi attack may hurt U.S.-Iran efforts-diplomats
An attack on Saudi oil installations that halted half the kingdom's output could harm French diplomacy meant to avert feared U.S.-Iranian conflict, diplomats said after President Emmanuel Macron's top envoy held talks in Saudi Arabia.

They said France was trying to pinpoint the origin of Saturday's strike on the oil infrastructure of the world's top crude exporter as it pursues diplomacy to defuse tensions across the Gulf region.

The United States has blamed Tehran for the attack. Iran has denied responsibility and on Tuesday again ruled out talks with Washington unless it rescinds sanctions and returns to a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran that it ditched last year.

"Up to now France doesn't have proof permitting it to say that these drones came from such and such a place, and I don't know if anyone has proof," Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters during a visit to Cairo on Tuesday.

"We need a strategy of de-escalation for the area, and any move that goes against this de-escalation would be a bad move for the situation in the region," he said.
Merkel Urges Return to Iran Nuclear Deal to Defuse Middle East Tensions
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday called for a return to an international deal curbing Iran’s nuclear activities as the only way to defuse tensions in the Middle East.

“We believe that the deal to stop Iran from acquiring military nuclear capabilities is a building block we need to get back to,” Merkel said during a news conference with Jordan’s King Abdullah.

“But there is also a long list of other burdens coming from Iran like the ballistic missiles program and its engagement in Syria,” she said. “In recent days tensions in the region rose and Germany will always be in favor of deescalation and long-term solutions are only possible through a political process.”

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